Saturday, April 10, 2010

Quebec Seeks Prohibition of Niqab: Canadians Have Individual Rights, Too.

When I was in law school, and everyone else was taking Bankruptcy and Wills and Corporate Tax, I was taking lots of international and comparative law courses. One of the things I loved about these courses was their ability to challenge long-held assumptions about, well, just about everything.

You see, somehow, somewhere I got the idea that nobody has any rights except us lucky folks in the good old U.S. of A. I mean, we pretty much invented free speech and stuff, right?

Well, no. As a matter of fact, we didn't. We have no monopoly on individual rights. We really don't. We're better at it than a lot of places, but we're just one nation among many that cares about individual rights -- about getting it right.

Which brings me to the question of whether a Muslim woman should be permitted to wear a burqa or niqab in the Canadian province of Quebec.

In a thoughtful, thorough, and provocative discussion, the law students at (and the folks responding) have analyzed Quebec's effort to prohibit the use of certain religious clothing.

It's a great article, because the writers provide a good foundational discussion on Canadian law. While it's similar to what you'd read on an American blawg, Canadian law is just different enough to challenge readers to think outside the (American) box when it comes to individual rights. Moreover, the writers have thoughtfully integrated a discussion of choice into the mix: what difference does it make if a Muslim woman chooses to wear a niqab, and how do we define choice in that context?

All in all, very enlightening.


  1. Hey! Glad you liked it! Thanks for your post.

    -Lawrence Gridin